The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines Roadside Inspections as follows: “Examinations of commercial motor vehicles and/or drivers by Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) Inspectors. MCSAP inspectors conduct roadside inspections on commercial motor vehicles and drivers to check that they are in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and/or Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs). If an inspection results in serious violations, the driver will be issued a driver or vehicle Out-of-Service Order. Violations must be corrected before the driver or vehicle can return to service.”
There were 29,755 federal and 1,297,675 state roadside inspections of trucks last calendar year. Through the end of June this year, the out of service rate for trucks is 21.48%; the rate for driver violations is 6.11%.
If you drive for a living, inspections are a fact of life. They are not a matter of if, but when. So how can drivers be better prepared for a roadside inspection? Here are six things to keep in mind.
1. Conduct thorough pre- and post-trip inspections every time. Along with a quality PM program, conducting thorough pre- and post-trip inspections will ensure that your equipment is compliant and safe.
2. Keep your equipment clean and looking good. Visible defects may draw attention to your vehicle. A messy cab may have an inspector wondering what else might be going on with this truck.
3. Be positive and polite. Drivers should be cooperative and friendly to the inspector and support the process, otherwise your actions may be construed as trying to hide something.
4. Have required documents ready at all times including driver’s license, registration, insurance, ELD data (or paper log), medical certificate, etc. Be organized beforehand so that you can easily share this information when needed.
5. Always practice safe driving behavior. Unsafe driving actions could spur a roadside inspection.
6. Be familiar with your roadside emergency supplies. Once again, knowing where things like triangles, flares and fire extinguishers are kept will make the inspection process go more smoothly.
Roadside inspections are not something to fear. Being prepared prior to an inspection, always practicing safe driving habits and keeping your truck clean and organized will go a long way toward making the process smooth and simple.
While it takes time for an inspection to be completed, once you pass the inspection you can get back to the job at hand, which beats being taken out of service.
Mark Prusak is assistant vice president of the Berkeley Division of Transervice. He leads a team of more than 75 people managing a customer’s private fleet of nearly 4,000 tractors, trailers and trucks. Prior to joining Transervice, Prusak held various position involving fleet, supply chain and logistics management.